Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley, San Mateo County


Hike Date: 10:30 am, Wednesday, October 16, 2019
4 miles, 2 hours 50 min, 595 feet

“Windy Hill is named for its distinctive, breezy grass-covered hilltop, which can be seen from many areas of the peninsula. The 1,335-acre preserve features open grassland ridges and forests of redwood, fir, and oak. Peninsula Open Space Trust, a local non-profit land trust, provided major support for the acquisition of this preserve.” (text source: mrosd)

FEATURES

  • A popular preserve for hiking, trail running, cycling, and horse riding
  • Panaromic views of the bay and the valley
  • Forested areas and open grasslands
  • Sag pond: Sausal Pond on the San Andreas Fault
  • Creeks: Hamms Gulch Creek, Corte Madera Creek
  • Dogs: Permitted on designated trails, on leash

ABOUT THE HIKE

This was a docent-led hike (Explorer Hike: Natural Wonders), with Laura Levin leading the group and Dennis Smith, Kate Gudmundson, and Mary Brunkhorst assisting with the hike and asnwering questions, if any. It was a leisurely-paced hike and we stopped frequently to learn about the plants and animals in the area.

From the pictures that I had seen on the net, I was under the impression that this preserve was completely exposed and that the trails were all strenuous. But this docent-led hike took the group on some fairly shaded trails, apart from some exposed ones. And with all the talking with the group while walking, the incline on some trails seemed bearable.

  1. Parking Lot: Windy Hill Open Space Parking. There seem to be ample parking spots, but I am guessing that the space would be running out on weekends. I was visiting on a weekday and most of the spots seem to be taken, what with the preserve’s popularity and access.
  2. Parking Fee: None.
  3. Restroom: At the end of the parking lot and next to the trailhead.
  4. Trailhead: Next to the parking lot.
  5. Exposure: Mostly exposed, some trails are shaded.
  6. Route (Loop, anti-clockwise):
      • Summary: Parking Lot/Trailhead – Betsy Crowder Trail – Spring Ridge Trail – Meadow Trail – Hamms Gulch Trail – Eagle Trail – Alpine Rd – Meadow Trail – Spring Ridge Trail
      • Detailed:
        • Trailhead (A) –> Continue straight and past a gate to enter the Betsy Crowder Trail (B).
        • Right on the T-junction to join the Spring Ridge Trail (C).
        • Keep an eye for a trail on the left to get on the Meadow Trail (D). Keep right on the next two forks to stay on the Meadow Trail.
        • Right on the T-junction –> Hamms Gulch Trail (E) –> cross the Hamms Gulch Creek.
        • Left at the fork –> Eagle Trail (F). We stopped here on a road bridge for a lunch break, where Laura gave us some history of the the pillars and the surrounding area.
        • Keep going on the Eagle Trail until it joins the road and turn left –> Alpine Rd (G).
        • Left to re-enter the preserve –> Meadow Trail (H).
        • Keep right at the fork.
        • At the four-way junction, continue straight to Spring Ridge Trail (I). Some way down, you will pass the Sausal Pond on the left.
        • Go right to reach the trailhead and the parking lot.
  7. Route Map:
  8. Terrain Profile (map rotated by 90 degrees):

HIKE STATS

  1. Distance: 4.1 miles
  2. Moving Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  3. Elevation Gain: 595 feet
  4. Elevation Profile:

SHOTS FROM THE HIKE

Parking Lot, Restroom, and Trailhead (A)

Betsy Crowder Trail (B)

View from the Spring Ridge Trail (C)

Eagle Trail (F)

Alpine Rd (G)

Flip through the pictures below to see the plants we learned to identify:

Common Snowberry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s